If you have sore gums, you may be wondering why they hurt and how to stop the pain.

Here are some causes and treatments for swollen gums.

What causes sore or swollen gums?

There are many causes of swollen and inflamed gums:

Gingivitis or periodontitis

Gingivitis is the most common cause of swollen gums. If plaque builds up on your gum line and teeth, over time it can become tartar (hardened plaque), which may lead to gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into a more serious infection called periodontal diseases (gum disease).1

Food particles and plaque also can get trapped under your gum line and cause an infection or gingivitis.2


Pregnancy can cause significant changes in hormone levels. These changes may increase blood flow to the gums, making them more sensitive to swelling.3 Hormonal changes also can weaken the body’s ability to fight bacteria that cause gingivitis.4


Oral infections caused by fungi and viruses can cause swollen gums. Complications from infected teeth, such as a tooth abscess, may also lead to swelling near the tooth.6

Brushing and flossing too hard

Extra pressure doesn’t make your teeth and gums cleaner—it just makes your gums sore. When brushing, use soft, circular motions. When flossing, gently slide the floss up and down each tooth following the curve.7

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We offer affordable dental plans for any budget, some with no waiting period. Explore Humana dental plans in your area today!

Immediate treatments for sore or swollen gums

Some home remedies for swollen and sore gums include:8

  • Gently flossing and brushing to clean the area
  • Rinsing mouth with saltwater to get rid of bacteria
  • Applying warm compresses to reduce gum pain
  • Applying cold compresses to reduce gum swelling
  • Drinking plenty of water to stimulate saliva production
  • Avoiding strong mouthwashes, alcohol and tobacco

Note: If the pain persists, contact your dentist.

Medical treatments for sore or swollen gums

If home remedies aren’t helping, 1 of these medical treatments may be the answer:9

  • Medicated toothpaste
  • Medicated mouthwash
  • Antibiotics
  • Scaling and root planing

Humana can help with swollen gums

If you need dental treatment for sore gums, Humana can help. Some of our plans feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. We also offer a broad range of plans with varying levels of coverage, many with low monthly premiums. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our dental insurance page.


  1. “Swollen Gums: Possible Causes and Treatments,” Healthline, last accessed March 13, 2023, https://www.healthline.com/health/gums-swollen, opens new window.
  2. “Gum Disease (Gingivitis and Periodontitis),” Healthline, last accessed March 13, 2023, https://www.healthline.com/health/gingivitis, opens new window.
  3. “What to do about swollen gums,” Medical News Today, last access March 13, 2023, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/swollen-gums, opens new window.
  4. “Swollen Gums: Possible Causes and Treatments.”
  5. “Swollen Gums: Possible Causes and Treatments.”
  6. “Swollen Gums: Possible Causes and Treatments.”
  7. “Is it Best to Floss Before or After Brushing Your Teeth,” Healthline, last accessed March 13, 2023, https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/floss-before-or-after-brushing, opens new window.
  8. “Swollen Gums: Possible Causes and Treatments.”
  9. “Swollen Gums: Possible Causes and Treatments.”